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Washington Nationals bring Carl Edwards, Jr. back to majors; debut in D.C. doesn’t go well

Carl Edwards, Jr. was lights out at Triple-A, but he struggled in his first appearance in the majors for the Nationals...

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Davey Martinez and Carl Edwards, Jr. have history. Martinez was the bench coach with the Cubs between 2015-17, when Edwards, Jr. was breaking into the big leagues, and the right-hander was on the mound for the final outs of the win which finally ended Chicago’s 108-year World Series drought in 2016.

Edwards, Jr. recorded two of the three outs in the bottom of the tenth inning in Game 7 of the 2016 Fall Classic, gave up a run, and was replaced by Mike Montgomery, who got No. 3.

Martinez pointed back to that pivotal moment in their shared histories when he talked with reporters about the now-30-year-old reliever getting called up to help out of the Nationals’ bullpen after signing a minor league deal in Washington this past March and dominating at Triple-A Rochester over the first month-plus (0.63 ERA, 1.95 FIP, 10.67 K/9, 2.51 BB/9 in 14 13 IP).

World Series Game 7: Chicago Cubs v Cleveland Indians

“I don’t know if you guys remember or not, but he got two of the first three outs in Game 7 for us,” Martinez said, “... so that’s the kind of pitcher I really feel like he can be. The other thing is he bounced around because, one, he couldn’t stay healthy, and two is he lost his command there for a while, and when we got him this Spring Training, he showed up early to camp, and we talked a lot about throwing strike one with all his pitches, and he’s done that.”

In his fifth season with the Cubs, Edwards, Jr. was traded to San Diego, and he’s pitched in the majors for Seattle, Atlanta, and Toronto over the last three years before catching fire at Triple-A Rochester to start this season.

“His curveball wasn’t sharp, now his curveball is really, really good, he worked on that,” the Nationals’ skipper said.

“His changeup is good, and his cutter is his primary pitch, and it’s back, and ... his velo is back, so he’s going to get an opportunity to pitch, starting today. The last day he pitched was Sunday, so he’s ready to go today.”

Martinez said the reports the club received from their top affiliate were all positive and told them it was time for Edwards, Jr. to get a chance. In order to make room on the roster, they optioned Andres Machado to Rochester, so he can throw regularly and await his next shot.

“Carl was really throwing the ball well, and I spoke to [Red Wings’ manger] Matt LeCroy and we felt like it was time to get him up here,” the fifth-year skipper said.

“He did everything we asked him to do, he checked all boxes, and I think he can help us here.

“Machado hasn’t pitched in a week or so, so we want to get him down there and get him on a regular routine.

“Obviously we’re going to need Machado, it’s a long year, so I talked to him and we just want to get him out there on a regular basis and get him sharp again.”

It also made sense to get Edwards, Jr. up while he was going/throwing well, rather than have him down at Triple-A having success.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“Carl has done a lot of different things, he can pitch from the fifth inning on if we need him, or he can pitch in the back end, he’s done it before,” Martinez said.

“The biggest thing with him was his health, and like I said, he checked all the boxes, he’s been back-to-back, he actually has gotten four outs down there, so and he was — his velo was really good, it was 95-97, his curveball was good and his changeup was good.”

Edwards, Jr.’s four-seamer, which he threw 68% in his debut with the Nationals last night, sat at 93.9 MPH and got up to 95.7, and he mixed in a 90-91 MPH sinker (26%), and his curve, (6%), in a 31-pitch appearance in which he gave up three hits, a walk, and three earned runs in an inning of work, blowing a 2-0 lead in what ended up a 4-2 loss.